Drumbeat: May 11, 2010

Droughts Turn Out the Lights in Hydro-Dependent African Nation

NAIROBI, Kenya -- The restaurant manager shrugs as his customers eat in darkness and his kitchen limps along on half power.

"What they told us in the newspaper last week was that one section of the city would have a blackout for maintenance purposes, but right now the whole city is down," said Nicholas Kyalo, whose restaurant, Garit, serves fast food in the capital's downtown core.

At lunchtime most of the city's electricity is down for the second time in a week. Garit's cooks stand idly as they wait their turn on the only working fryer, and other staffers scramble to start emergency generators before food spoils in the refrigerator.

Blackouts are a regular occurrence in this city and throughout Africa, and the problem is getting worse. Shop owners can be seen dragging out diesel generators and firing them up in the streets. Restaurants have gotten so used to blackouts that they design their menus around them.

Tullow To Supply Oil To Ugandan Thermal-power Plants

KAMPALA, Uganda (Dow Jones)--U.K.-based Tullow Oil PLC (TLW.LN) is planning to supply crude oil to thermal-power plants in Uganda when it starts extended well-testing later this year, officials said Tuesday.

Tullow is negotiating a supply contract with companies including Norway-based Jacobsen Elektro AS and Electromaxx, according to people familiar with the situation.

Tullow plans to start producing around 500 barrels of oil a day during the extended well-testing. The volume will be increased until the company reaches commercial levels next year.

Henry Groppi's Radical Gas Price Thought: Much Higher!

We were inundated by copies of articles from the Canadian press about an interview with Henry Groppi, the 80-year old head of Texas petroleum reservoir firm Groppi Long & Littell, in which he argued that natural gas prices will more than double from current levels within the next 120 days. Long known as an accurate seer of the petroleum industry, with a track record to support that claim, the initial reaction of many industry participants was: What is this man thinking?

His thesis is perfectly logical – the only question is does the timing make sense? In Mr. Groppi's view, swelling gas inventories are about to reverse at the same time new supplies – those gas shale plays everyone is so gaga over – are overstated. In his view, the market, as reflected by $4 per Mcf spot prices, is totally wrong and we will see prices north of $8 per Mcf before the end of summer.

Sinopec building oil reserve in Tianjin

TIANJIN - Sinopec, China's second-largest oil company, has begun construction of a commercial crude oil reserve base with a storage capacity of 3.2 million cubic meters in north China.

Gazprom says exports to some EU states up sharply

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom has raised exports to some European Union states by 40 percent so far this year and by 50 percent to Britain, RIA Novosti quoted its chief as saying on Tuesday.

Jet fuel runs out

WINDHOEK – Namibia is running out of aviation fuel and two airports are already dry, forcing planes to refuel in neighbouring countries.

The shortage of jet fuel follows the pullout of major oil producer, BP Africa, which terminated the supply contract when it closed its retail trading business arm in Namibia two months ago.

New Zealand: Diesel shortage hits North

It has been reported that diesel is being trucked long distances around the country because of delays due to a maintenance shutdown at the Marsden Pt oil refinery. It is understood fuel companies have been swapping supplies to prevent stations running out completely.

Chevron Canada Spuds Deepest Oil Well

Chevron Canada has begun drilling the country's deepest offshore oil well, as the firm sought to soothe fears over a repeat of the massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico.

Live-Blogging the Senate Hearing on Offshore Drilling

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is holding a hearing on offshore gas and oil development, including the Interior’s Department’s recently announced plan to allow more drilling and the April 20 accident involving the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Green is live-blogging the hearing, with the most recent updates at the top of this post. MSNBC is also providing a live feed.

FACTBOX - Oil industry spent big on Senate panel members

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Executives from BP Plc and two other companies were appearing before two Senate committees on Tuesday for grillings about the gushing BP oil well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

Thirty-two of the 40 Democrats and Republicans who sit on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee have collected millions of dollars from BP or other oil and gas interests during election campaigns dating to 1990, public records show.

Tread carefully, Mr Obama. You need big oil

f the fallout from the Gulf oil spill forces Americans off the roads, we’ll tip back into recession.

BP's murky deep-water future

(Fortune) -- Not only did the virtually impossible happen -- a blowout on the Gulf of Mexico seabed a mile down -- it happened to a top-notch oil team. BP's debacle is the U.S. oil industry's most serious setback, undercutting nearly 60 years of incremental progress in offshore drilling, and it could crimp future output from ultra-deep water, the source of an increasing share of America's -- and the world's -- oil production.

US oil spill impacts Korean economy

There are worries that the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could devastate the economies of several U.S. coastal regions and spread to leave a lasting scar in the fallout. And with volatile international oil prices starting to dance again, Korea is feeling the effect too.

More than an oil spill

We may well be living with the consequences of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill for the rest of the 21st century. But judging by past environmental disasters, the spill also has the potential to reinvigorate the environmental movement going forward. For more than a century, ecological crises have often strengthened environmental movements.

No Easy Villains May Mean No Easy Oil

Another thing I'd look at is the 'end of job effect'. It's interesting how many seafarers die doing something wrong the day before they leave the ship. I think what happens is that towards the end of the job time is short, the work is intense, and people become more and more focused on what they are doing rather than what's going on around them -- they want to get their part of the job done. So they loose situation awareness -- almost a sixth sense of what's going on around them.

The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: An Accident Waiting to Happen

The oil slick spreading across the Gulf of Mexico has shattered the notion that offshore drilling had become safe. A close look at the accident shows that lax federal oversight, complacency by BP and the other companies involved, and the complexities of drilling a mile deep all combined to create the perfect environmental storm.

How Fast a Transition from Oil?

The Gulf Coast oil spill remains the top energy story this week, eclipsing a $10 drop in oil prices that should soon ripple through to gas pumps near you. With BP's latest effort to contain the spill having run afoul of a slush buildup composed of methane hydrate crystals, the deepwater well continues to leak at an undetermined rate. The longer the spill continues, the greater the chances for severe environmental consequences, and the likelier that it will become a perception-altering milestone event as some environmentalists have already suggested. However, even if the spill were to galvanize public opinion in a manner similar to the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, what options do we have that could realistically reduce our reliance on oil produced from offshore platforms?

It's worse than you think: plotting global hydrocarbon collapse

More than 90 per cent of the world’s energy comes from non-renewable sources – and its decline can be projected on a Hubbert bell curve.

It’s just that we are more familiar with the concept of peak oil. After all, oil is the world’s largest source of energy, and the size and immediacy of the problem tends to overshadow debate on the remaining energy sources. But Hubbert’s model proves versatile, as the exploitation of any non-renewable resource – from oil to uranium – follows similar patterns.

‘Cheap’ U.K. Market Lures Scottish Widows Fund to Buy Utilities

(Bloomberg) -- Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, one of Edinburgh’s two-largest fund companies, is taking refuge in energy stocks as the U.K. economy grapples with debt and political upheaval.

Corn Declines on Speculation U.S. Crops Escaped Freeze Damage

(Bloomberg) -- Corn fell for the second time in three sessions on speculation that cold weekend weather failed to harm recently planted crops in the U.S., the world’s biggest grower of the grain.

Temperatures that reached the freezing mark the past three days from Colorado to Ohio caused no permanent damage, said Drew Lerner, the president of World Weather Inc. in Overland Park, Kansas. The U.S. government today is expected to report that the crop is being sown at or near the fastest pace ever, increasing yield potential, said Greg Grow, the director of agribusiness for Archer Financial Services in Chicago.

US DOE gives $37.8 M to NYISO for smart grid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Energy will give the New York Independent System Operator, which operates the state's power grid, $37.8 million to deploy smart grid technologies to enhance the reliability and efficiency of the power grid.

To implement the project, expected to take about three years to complete and cost about $75.7 million, the NYISO said in a release Monday it signed agreements with all eight of New York's transmission owners.

PG&E apologizes for smart meter problems

PG&E apologized to customers for poor customer service surrounding the installation of smart meters today, calling its behavior toward customers “unacceptable.”

The Northern California investor-owned utility released a 700-page report detailing its smart meter installation and problems it says it has worked to address.

Russia says may build nuclear power plant in Syria

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Russia may help build a nuclear power plant in Syria, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko told Reuters on Tuesday as the Kremlin moved to strengthen ties with a Soviet-era ally in the Middle East.

Underwater ‘kite’ captures tidal energy

A small "kite" that's flown under water is boldly going where no tidal turbine has gone before.

“Deep Green” looks like someone’s flying kites from the sea floor. With its 39-foot wingspan and 328-foot cable tethering it to the ocean floor, all it’s missing is a colorful tail.

Though a nearly 40-foot wingspan may seem big, the kites are small compared to other tidal energy designs. That’s one of the big advantages to Deep Green: it can operate at greater depths, where currents are slower.

Climate change is the true crisis

West Virginia's mining disaster and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill were disastrous and investigations are justified, but the real threat is much worse.

Global warming: The final century powered by fossil fuels

There is no doubt that the 21st Century will be the last century powered by fossil fuels. The vigorous debate going on right now is whether the transition will occur at a rapid or leisurely pace--but there's no doubt that it will happen within the lifetimes of many of you who read these words.

It won't really be worries about peak oil, peak coal or peak uranium that sets the pace for the conversion that is coming. There is no shortage of fossil fuels lying around--it just depends on the price we're willing to pay. Nor is it, pace those most alarmed by it, going to be global warming that drives the move. Getting 295 countries to agree a strategy that will help some, harm others and give competitive advantage to a few is just too herculean a task.

DOE Still Disavows Peak Oil Forecast, Despite New Studies

A few weeks after the joint force report came out, there was speculation that the DOE had endorsed peak oil theory after Glen Sweetnam, former director of the International, Economic and Greenhouse Gas division of the DOE’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), told French paper Le Monde that, "if the investment is not there," world oil production could enter a "decline" by 2011.

Sweetnam has since left the EIA on a yearlong reassignment: a development unrelated to the interview he gave Le Monde, according to Lauren Mayne, a liquid fuels analyst at the agency.

Mayne clarifies that the EIA does not expect oil production to peak in 2011. When asked if the EIA expects to see oil production ever peak and diminish, Mayne replied that the agency does not anticipate a peak oil scenario resulting from supply shortages: “We do not see a peak, if a peak means a sharp retraction in oil production.”

In fact, Mayne argued, the world’s total projected oil consumption in 2030 "could be met, given current resource estimates."

That claim is backed up, according to Mayne, by the EIA’s country-by-country estimate of future oil production. "Actual production, of course, will likely differ somewhat, but we do feel from an analytical basis that these production estimates are likely to progress in a way that’s shown" by EIA models, she said.

Oil Declines on Concern European Debt Bailout Is Insufficient

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil fell to below $76 a barrel on concern that Europe’s bailout of almost $1 trillion may not be sufficient to end the region’s sovereign debt crisis.

Oil reversed an increase of as much as 0.8 percent after the euro dropped against the dollar and investors questioned whether the European plan will reduce deficits accumulated by Greece, Spain and Portugal. U.S. crude supplies probably rose for the 14th time in 15 weeks, reinforcing concern that demand in the world’s biggest consumer is lagging.

OPEC Increases 2010 Oil Demand Forecast on Outlook for China

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries raised estimates for global oil demand in 2010 on optimistic outlook for economic growth in China.

OPEC, responsible for about 40 percent of the world’s oil, boosted its forecast for worldwide crude consumption this year by 180,000 barrels a day, or 0.2 percent, to 85.38 million barrels per day. It also raised projections for supplies from outside the organization.

Norway Raises 2010 Crude Oil Price Estimate by 11.8%

(Bloomberg) -- Norway, the world’s sixth-largest oil exporter, raised its estimate for crude prices this year by 11.8 percent as demand increases from emerging markets such as China.

Crude prices are expected to average 475 kroner ($76.83) a barrel this year, an increase of 50 kroner from an October estimate, the government said today in its revised budget statement. The government also set crude price estimates of 475 kroner next year and 408 kroner a barrel in 2012.

U.S. agency lets oil industry write offshore drilling rules

WASHINGTON -- The oil industry, not the federal agency that regulates it, plays a crucial role in writing the safety and environmental rules for offshore drilling, a role critics say reflects cozy ties between an industry and its regulators that need to be snapped.

Gasoil Profits Rising to 16-Month High in Asia

(Bloomberg) -- Asian oil refiners are poised to earn the biggest profits in 16 months from making gasoil as the region’s industrial demand for diesel outpaces growth in Europe and the U.S.

The benchmark crack spread measuring the premium of Singapore gasoil swaps to Dubai crude swaps rose to $11.10 a barrel yesterday, recouping most of last week’s 6.3 percent loss, based on data from brokers PVM Oil Associates. The margin is closing in on the $13 level reached in January 2009, when oil in New York traded below $40 a barrel amid the recession.

BP to Try Again to Control Oil Leak as Hearings Start

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc will make a second attempt to control its leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico within a week by putting another containment dome over it, Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward said.

BP braces for grilling over oil spill failures

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – BP braced for a grilling by US lawmakers Tuesday over its failure to contain a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as the British energy giant weighed options to deal with the leak.

Executives from the three firms tied to the April 20 oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers meanwhile blamed each other for setting off one of the worst oil spills in US history.

As oil gushes out, damage claims pour in

Even as oil continues to gush out of the damaged Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, everyone from Louisiana fisherman to Florida condo owners are already beginning to vie for compensation from oil company BP.

Experts say it could take decades to sort out the claims, and BP executives acknowledge the company will have to spend more than the $75 million cap on that type of liability payment, which was set by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

Transocean stays mostly quiet on spill

SAN FRANCISCO - Eight months ago, BP Plc was celebrating the discovery of a massive oil find thanks to the work of Transocean's Deepwater Horizon rig, which had just drilled the oil and gas industry's deepest well.

The Horizon is now a wreck on the seabed, following an explosion three weeks ago that killed 11 people, including nine Transocean employees, and precipitated a massive leak from another well it was drilling for BP.

In both cases, rig contractor Transocean Ltd found itself playing second fiddle to the client.

Simply put, rig owners view too much attention as bad for business, and Transocean, the Switzerland-based industry leader with a history of ex-military managers, is no exception.

Lessons of Valdez come into play

A close examination of studies of the Exxon Valdez disaster and interviews with many people who took part in the cleanup offers a possible peek into what lies ahead for the Gulf Coast in the coming weeks, months, years — and perhaps decades. Indeed, by one estimate, about 21,000 gallons of oil still linger on some of Alaska's beaches, often in the form of dark brown globs just beneath the rocks.

What's more, there are still some experts who argue that the aggressive cleanup following the Exxon Valdez spill proved more harmful than the oil itself. That continuing debate points to another potential cautionary tale about how conflicts among various groups looking to make things right can end up hampering cleanup efforts.

BP Relief Wells Bring Risk of Bigger Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc faces the risk of an even bigger oil spill as it attempts to drill two so-called relief wells to plug a leak on the seabed of the Gulf of Mexico that’s gushing 5,000 barrels a day into the ocean.

BP Oil Spill May Thwart Industry Push Into Norwegian Arctic

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc’s oil spill off the Louisiana coast may stall a push by the industry to open up areas near Norway’s Lofoten and Vesteraalen islands, home to Arctic cod spawning grounds and sperm whales.

Norway’s three-party ruling coalition is debating whether to start a process this year that may eventually open the areas in the Norwegian Sea, which hold an estimated 1.3 billion barrels in crude and natural gas. The leading Labor Party is split over the issue, while the Center Party and Socialist Left are officially against opening the territories.

Exxon, Shell Said to Consider Sale of German Gas-Storage Sites

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc are considering a sale of natural-gas storage capacity in Germany as they focus on exploration, according to three people familiar with the matter.

E.ON First-Quarter Profit Rises 16% as Energy Demand Increases

(Bloomberg) -- E.ON AG, the world’s largest utility, said first-quarter profit increased 16 percent as energy demand rose on higher industrial output and a longer winter in Europe.

Sanyo to Invest 170 Billion Yen in Battery Businesses

(Bloomberg) -- Sanyo Electric Co., the world’s biggest maker of rechargeable batteries acquired by Panasonic Corp., will invest 170 billion yen ($1.8 billion) over three years to expand in batteries and solar panels.

The company will invest 120 billion yen to speed up development of new technology to lower the cost of making rechargeable batteries and boost production, the Osaka-based company said today. Sanyo will also invest 50 billion yen in its solar-cell operations by March 2013, it said.

BHP’s Uranium Project Under Review on Resources Tax

(Bloomberg) -- BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, said its Yeelirrie uranium project in Western Australia is being reassessed following the government’s plan to impose a 40 percent tax on resource profits.

Business bibles or cash cows?

Hot on the heels of Hughes’s book is a new release from Eddie Hobbs, whose latest focus is the energy crisis, and the looming consequences of rising oil prices for Irish consumers and investors.

Hobbs talks readers through investing in commodities funds, makes his case for the imminence of peak oil, and advises that “green energy is where the real loot will be made”, although he adds that investors should choose carefully within this sector.

Should we pay heed to Hobbs? “I haven’t read his book, but I have looked a lot at the peak oil theory,” says PJ King, a renewable energy investor. “The story with it is that nobody knows for sure, but I would have to say that there is more likely to be something to it than not.”

Buffett defends Goldman, joins greed Conspiracy

United Nations says global population is increasing from 6 billion to 9 billion by 2050. China and India need 500 new cities each. Billions more humans want autos, using up limited resources, shifting more costs to America, as commodity price increases and new resource wars.

Grounds for hope at Hilton hustings

Most of the business, however, was serious. This included the first question - when will a cross-party coalition form to prepare for the post-peak-oil economy? There followed questions about renewable energy, food miles, rail travel, the conservation of agricultural land, Trident, consumerism and forthcoming cuts in public spending.

Plenty to fall out over in that lot, you might think, but the candidates (and the audience) behaved extremely well. Despite fundamental differences in political philosophy, they remained polite and even found at times grounds for agreement.

However, the leopard's spots could not be kept hidden all the time. Donald Gatt (UKIP) seemed to think that withdrawal from the EU would solve most problems. George MacDonald (Solidarity - Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) spoke strongly and often for public ownership.

Markham doesn’t need David Suzuki to tell it how to grow without paving paradise

You know you’ve hit the big time when David Suzuki sings your praises on YouTube. That is what happened to a pair of Markham councillors who propose creating one of Canada’s first food belts.

The measure, which goes before Markham town council Tuesday evening, would protect farmland by freezing Markham’s urban boundaries. New subdivisions would have to be built within those boundaries, leading to the “intensification” of built-up areas of the town and leaving the land beyond it for the birds, bees and cows.

Five Percent ... just Five Percent per Year

Very simply, The Five Percent Solution calls on the United States to embrace quite achievable and straightforward objectives for each and every year ...:

• Cut oil use five percent.

• Cut coal-fired electricity by five percent of 2010 levels.

Carolyn Baker - Peak Relationships: The End Of Suburbia Up Close And Personal

For most individuals who are aware of and preparing for the collapse of industrial civilization, the notion of a convergence of crises in the current milieu-Peak Oil, climate change, economic meltdown, species extinction, and overpopulation, is not new information. They know that never before in recorded history has the human race been confronted with the web of crises it is now facing. What they didn't anticipate, however, is that when sharing their bursts of enlightenment with spouses, friends, children, or parents they would increasingly be perceived by their loved ones as something akin to psychotic alien life forms. What they had hoped for instead is that their dear ones would be willing to investigate the same topics they had so carefully researched and would join them in preparing to navigate a daunting future.

White flight? Suburbs lose young whites to cities

WASHINGTON – White flight? In a reversal, America's suburbs are now more likely to be home to minorities, the poor and a rapidly growing older population as many younger, educated whites move to cities for jobs and shorter commutes.

Wisconsin names stops for Milwaukee-Madison high-speed rail

MADISON, Wis. — A high-speed rail line connecting Wisconsin's two largest cities will make its Madison stop near the Capitol at Monona Terrace, Gov. Jim Doyle announced Thursday.

The convention center stop was chosen over three other Madison locations: the airport, the Kohl Center on the University of Wisconsin campus and a site just east of downtown.

Falling short of biodiversity goals

Far too many of the world's plants and animals — and the wild places that support them — are at risk of collapse, a U.N. report finds, despite a global goal set in 2002 for major improvement by this year. Frogs and other amphibians are most at risk of extinction, coral reefs are the species deteriorating most rapidly, and the survival of nearly a quarter of all plant species is threatened, the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity said in a report Monday. Pollution, climate change, drought, deforestation and overfishing are among the culprits named.

White House Admits 2010 May not See Climate Bill

(AP) Washington's special climate envoy conceded Monday the U.S. may not have a climate and energy bill in place when the next major global warming conference is held in Mexico late this year, but insisted the legislation is not crucial to those talks.

Efforts to pass the long-stalled bill hit another setback this month when its only Republican sponsor, Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, withdrew his support.

Brown: US climate bill or not, the world is on track

Leaders did not deliver an international agreement in Copenhagen and the US is dragging its feet on a climate bill, but all is not lost as positive action on reducing carbon emissions is developing quickly and we are rapidly approaching the climate-energy tipping point, American climate guru Lester Brown told EurActiv in an exclusive interview.

Salazar to split MMS into two agencies

The plan, which contrary to an Associated Press report does not need congressional approval, will divide MMS into two separate agencies: one with oversight responsibilities for the oil industry and another that would provide drilling leases and collect federal royalties on the operations.

Richard Charter, a senior policy adviser for the advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife, said in an interview that there has always been "an inherent conflict of interest" embedded in the current system, where the same agency inspects oil rigs, probes wrongdoing and enforces safety rules while simultaneously collecting royalties from the companies it oversees.

Another layer of complexity. That'll fix it!

Ghung, did you see the Archdruid's last "Report"? All about layers of complexity, and where it's gotten us...

JMG did a good series on complexity and its costs. This has been a pet peeve of mine for many years, and one reason I have been trying to decomplexify my own situation for 2 decades (actually my whole life, I just didn't understand it. I considered myself "disfunctional" ;-). Our society makes it difficult.

Actually, the possible reason for this is a way to corral and isolate the Bush appointees who started this very lax regulation in the first place, including sex and drugs with the oil industry.

Instead of firing them all, they will probably put them all in the division that doesn't do the inspections and enforcement.

There's always a "good reason", and the following unintended consequences.

Fire the bastards. Hire ROCKMAN, West Texas and Gail.

An open letter from the US national Academy of sciences that was sent to but not published by the WP, NYT, and WSJ according to Dr Peter Gleick.


Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific assessments of climate change, which involve thousands of scientists producing massive and comprehensive reports, have, quite expectedly and normally, made some mistakes. When errors are pointed out, they are corrected. But there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change:

I can see the headlines now:

"Are you now or have you ever been a scientist?" - Question asked of each witness at the Inhofe Hearings.

Right. Followed by, "Do you sir, subscribe to the view that men were not created by the hand of God but were, rather, descended from monkeys?"

Ha! good try there sir, you almost had me there for a moment. "*HAND*" of God! Wink, wink! You and I both know that "NGALYOD" The RAINBOW-SNAKE,The Great Creator Serpent, in charge of Fertility, Growth and Refreshing Rain, doesn't have any hands...

As for men, descending from monkeys, that's utterly ridiculous! Everyone knows that the only people who even mention such a thing are creationists who don't understand the theory of evolution. I know you are not "THAT" ignorant! Men and Chimpanzees both evolved from a common ancestor. But you knew that.

As for the monkey's origin, there is a long lineage of ancestors to the primates clearly evident in the fossil record. How far back do you want to go?

Why are you calling the guards, sir?

no, no - monkeys, men, planets, indeed the whole universe, I'm quite sure they were all created by the invisible hand...

if there's a supply deficiency we'll simply create more

Norway '10 Oil Output Seen 2.2 Million B/D, -4.5% On Year -Ministry

Norway's 2010 oil production is forecast to decline 4.5% on year to 2.2 million barrels a day, the country's Ministry of Petroleum and Energy said Tuesday.
The forecast output includes natural gas liquids and condensate, the ministry said in an emailed statement.

Though Norway continues to find and open a few new fields in the North Sea their new production does not nearly keep up with the decline rate of their older fields. I have no idea what the decline rate would be without that new production coming on line from time to time, but I suppose it would be 7 to 8 percent. At any rate their 2010 production of Crude + Condensate will drop below 2 million barrels a day for the first time since they peaked at 3,266,000 barrels per day of C + C in 2001.

A running record of Norway's new discoveries along with dry holes drilled can be found here: Exploration drilling results

Ron P.

Hello Ron,

Below some diagrams based upon the most recent data from NPD (Norwegian Petroleum Directorate) that may help shed some light on what is presently going on with Norwegian crude oil supplies.
Diagrams are clickable and opens up in a bigger version in a new window

The diagram above shows crude oil supplies from Norwegian fields starting to flow prior to 01. Jan. 2002 and how new fields has negated the decline in Norwegian crude oil supplies.

The diagram above shows the development in the total decline rate for NCS fields starting to flow prior to 01. Jan. 2002.
This annual decline rate has recently accelerated and as of Feb. 2010 it was 14 % on an annual basis.

This makes me expect that total Norwegian crude oil supplies will decline with 10 % (or more) from 2009 to 2010.

Thanks Rune. This is a little alarming. Fields that were on line before December 31, 2001, are now declining at between 12 and 15 percent.

I find your second chart very interesting. Looking at your 12 month average line, the decline rate reached 15 percent in late 2006 and early 2007. But then the decline rate dropped to around 7 percent in early 2007 but then took a sharp downward trend.

Do you know if there were any enhanced recovery methods put in place in 2006 to turn the decline rate around?

Thanks, Ron P.

An accelerating decline rate should cause concern.

What I found interesting with the diagram showing the decline rates was that as oil prices started to grow (as from 2004) the decline rate was (temporarily) slowed down, though with a time lag.

A comment from a representative within the industry pointed out that a similar pattern was observed for some fields in 2000/2001 (as the dollar was stronger versus Norwegian Krone) and suggested that the field owners may have increased extraction rates to improve cash flows.

It could be a similar effect (inclusive effects from more infill drilling and other enhanced recovery methods made economic by the higher oil prices) that caused the slowdown in the decline rate as oil prices went ballistic in 2007/2008.

Re.:DOE Still Disavows Peak Oil Forecast, Despite New Studies

Sweetnam has since left the EIA on a yearlong reassignment: a development unrelated to the interview he gave Le Monde, according to Lauren Mayne, a liquid fuels analyst at the agency.

IOW you can contact him at "Sweetnam@Siberia.com" for the next year.

"In fact, Mayne argued, the world’s total projected oil consumption in 2030 "could be met, given current resource estimates."

They always slide in that "given current resource estimates" because they later can say "no one saw this coming."

The birds in hand are declining and the birds in the bush are much higher and swifter, and in some cases imaginary (e.g. "current" OPEC resource "estimates").

And the band played on...

Once we face oil shortages (let’s say around 2015), public discontent will be so strong that politicians will have to find groups to blame for the situation (e.g. via a Congressional Commission) and justify their incompetence… I’m sure that the DOE, EIA, IEA (in addition to oil companies and OPEC countries) will be under intense scrutiny…

Whoever is putting pressure on the EIA and/or the IEA to downplay the risk of Peak Oil should prepare his defense right now.

Once we face oil shortages (let’s say around 2015),

In spite of previous forcasts, the Economist comes to mind, we face a gargantuan shortage of $5/barrel oil today. We face an enormous shortage of $35/barrel oil today. We face a huge shortage of $60/barrel oil today. We are barely meeting our current demand for $75/barrel oil.

Still, I think it is reasonable to anticipate that we will not face a shortage of $200/barrel oil in 2015.

Demand peaks.

"Still, I think it is reasonable to anticipate that we will not face a shortage of $200/barrel oil in 2015."

I think we could face a shortage of $200/barrel in 2015 if: 1) the value of the dollar is decimated, or 2) The average person is no longer a major consumer (priced out of reach), but there is still enough wealth among the world's powerful to create too much demand on production in 2015 (especially if there is a war causing increases in demand adding to pricing pressure or rationing in a civilian market).

I do like that Economist bit "gargantuan shortage of $5/bbl oil today..." ;)

"Whoever is putting pressure on the EIA and/or the IEA to downplay the risk of Peak Oil should prepare his defense right now."

They have their defence and they are sticking to it: "We have seen peak demand..."

If it becomes concensus that we are in terminal decline, then they can always point to the "official" crooked graphs based on the "official" cooked estimates - the ones they published without blushing all these years - and say, "See, you can't blame us, even the experts with the bestest official data were wrong - So no one saw this comin' !!!"

Snarlin, I tried to reach Sweetnam but the email address doesn't work.

But this one does, "Sweetnam@Siberia.net"

Caught and silenced. Funny I had the exact same thought, can you say "gulag". It seems The Clash's "Know Your Rights" has never been more true:

You have the right to free speech,
If you're ever dumb enough to try it.

My guess is that Mr Sweatnam is sitting in a closet someplace, with a phone that never rings and a desk with nothing on it, collecting his salary and accumulating the total number of years of employment necessary to get his pension.

His bosses have probably decided that the risk of a highly publicized whistle blower investigation/ lawsuit is more than they want to deal with, given that thier primary job these days is to keep the cows calm.

At least dead bodies of indiscreet bueracrats are not yet accumulating under mysterious circumstances.This is a comforting observation in that it leads me to think I might have another year or two , or even longer, to finish up my preparations for a lower input , lower energy lifestyle.

OFM, I dunno if you were trying to make up that closet story, but if so, reality long ago caught up with you.

New York City and its teachers' unions have reached a deal to put an end to a bizarre and Kafkaesque system in which suspended teachers are placed in holding centres, dubbed "rubber rooms", doing nothing on full pay in some cases for as long as 10 years.

I first heard about the teachers rubber room a long while ago.There are frequent references to such foolishness in the conservative press,which hardly anybody here in this forum bothers to read.

The corporate world has also had its own version for a long time, but it was seldom used until the whistle blower laws were passed.

Peons were simply fired, but higher ups were occasionally isolated with thier paychecks and pensions safe;this small sacrifice on the part to top management has been seen as a useful morale builder for lower and mid management;thy God the upper management is a WRATHFUL GOD, BUT ALSO A MERCIFUL GOD-occasionally at least.Nobody in management can ever be completely sure the buck won't stop on his desk, so everybody has an incentive to play along in this little game.

In the later days of the old USSR a similar system was instituted;disgraced managers were allowed to retire, or given a job counting spoons and toilet paper someplace in a ministry, rather than being sent to the Gulag or shot.This contributed to everybody sleeping a little better.At one time nobody at all was safe from the three AM knock on the door.

I know a lower level former educational manager (principal) personally who is finishing up his career counting used textbooks and folding chairs, and a couple of former low level managers in local factories who are doing the industrial equivalent.

The managers at the next level up could simply get rid of them , but then they would have to explain why they were promoted in the first place.

An interesting article, and has info from IEA and EIA.


According to these guys, it is just a matter of investing enough money. We can make the oil flow as fast as we want. Of course, it all seems to depend on us not wanting quite so much. But, hey! Not a problem! Right? I mean, the banks have plenty of money, and they can loan it... oops, they already have, and the loans are to bad credit people and nations, but are 100% safe because the banks are too big to fail, and the governments, which have all the money they need, right?, are guaranteeing all those loans to all those folks who, of course, will never default or ...

Oh, forget it! Just pretend we have ample money, and I will pretent we have ample oil!

And, of course, abiotic coal.



it is just a matter of investing enough money

Nope, these people (who don't actually have to make a profit don't understand how the real world works)...

... it's all about investing enough money in profitable oil ventures, since these have not been adequate for >11 years now I conclude we are well past peak crude oil.

The only statistic I trust is the price I pay at the pump, not the stuff pumped out by people like the IEA and EIA which is clearly faulty to some extent.

How do we stop them pushing this deliberately faulty analysis?

Buffett Has "No Comment" On His Sale Of $30MM In MCO Shares Just After Moody's Wells Notice Receipt


Buffett is a Pigman too.

And out of nowhere Bernie Sanders suddenly wimps out and kneels before the fed...

Meanwhile, Obama helps Golden Sacks capture the supreme court...

sorry I know I'm a bit of an average billy beer barrel ( former joe sick pack ) but this made me laff

the DOE statement

“We do not see a peak, if a peak means a sharp retraction in oil production.”

wut? ah now they defined the "peak" as sharp drop , sorry guys but a decline doesn't match up any more! HaH! might as well drop the TOD then , but westexas 's ELM model will make a decline look like a increasingly sharper drop , so perhaps not

sorry but a peak is a peak , no matter what the slope is like on the other side - you just cant' believe these guys.....


Peter Maass on Democracy Now! discussing his book, “Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil”

Author Peter Maass writes about how oil has resulted in devastation around the world in his new book, Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil. Maass spent eight years traveling the globe to discover the costs of oil production to the planet. Peter Maass is an award-winning investigative journalist and author and a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.

Thanks for pointing this out, stiv. I've suggested that we have a series of posts based on chapters of his book, but to no avail so far. He is a good writer. I have introduced many people over the years to the concept of peak oil through his fine article in the NYT Sunday Magazine from a few years ago.

New Delhi Metro changes city


118 miles this September, first 5.3 miles (8.5 km) opened in December, 2002.

2021 Map (pdf)


A massive build-out in a decade that has changed the city and made them much less oil dependent. Much more in the next decade.

Think of something comparable for Los Angeles, etc.

Best Hopes for Rivaling Indian Infrastructure,


A good one for students of system dynamics, some delicious irony. When predicting the future makes it happen:

Did Big Bet Trigger Stock Swoon?

In the disarray, some huge superfast-trading hedge funds that now provide much of the liquidity for the stock market pulled to the sidelines. The working theory among traders and others involved in the exchange meltdown is that the "Black Swan"-linked fund may have contributed to a "Black Swan" moment, a rare, unforeseen event that can have devastating consequences.
"Universa alone couldn't have caused the meltdown," said Mark Spitznagel, Universa's founder. "We had reached a critical point in the market, and it was poised to collapse." Barclays Capital declined to comment.

The lesson of the market crashes is that the system is impossible to predict partly because of the interactions of the players in the system. If you have people actively exploiting tipping points, it becomes part of the system - with results that can't be predicted.

The really unnerving thing is that no one seems to know for sure what happened.

Not only did some stocks drop to zero, at least one spiked to insane highs.

Anybody with basic knowledge of "tipping points", as espoused by meta-stable chaotic systems such as weather, can see how you can have something really big happen without figuring out why.

A butterfly flapped its wings, causing the hurricane. But which butterfly?

In other words, there is no one cause, and it does not matter. What does matter is that it is now proven to be subject to short-term instability.

If somebody knew what happened, why would they tell, versus placing bets and making it happen again?

I don't think anyone knows.

If somebody knew what happened, why would they tell, versus placing bets and making it happen again?

What benefit is there in making it happen again, unless they have vandal/hacker mentality? The trades were canceled, so it didn't benefit anyone.

And if it happens again, it's likely to spook people out of the market altogether.

Let's assume it will happen again. Find your ten favorite stocks. Put in an ultra low bid, way lower than the current price. Wait. Or maybe a hundred stocks. This also assumes a bounce back. People,however, listening to Cramer in real time and immediately acting made a lot of money out of this deal.

Except that not all trades were canceled -- only those beyond a threshold.

Even without a bounce, there are fortunes available on shorts.

I would suspect it is heavy dominance of speculative trading by computers, rather than long-term investment by individuals and funds, that underlies the issue.

What benefit is there in making it happen again, unless they have vandal/hacker mentality? The trades were canceled, so it didn't benefit anyone.

And if it happens again, it's likely to spook people out of the market altogether.

Well lets see. The last couple of days the market has shot up several hundred points. Not enough to revert to pre-event levels, but a reversion to something close to trend that can be counted on... I'd love to be able to cause that at will. They probably cancelled the trades that happened over a short period -says minutes to an hour, but you coulda made good money afterwards. Then, I see gold has hit a record high. Cause a panic that makes people lose confidence, and stuff like gold will benefit. Ought to be able to game it to make a pretty big gain out of that.......

Well, so far the only real result we can point to is a government investigation and more regulation.

It seems that the volume overwhelmed both the big traders and exchanges, so in some markets certain stocks plummeted because there were so few buyers. Systems designed to spot bargain stocks pulled them back up.

If it wasn't a simple data glitch or typo, then it looks like a new system failure mode. Tying an economy to a giant computer game just doesn't seem like a good idea.

with results that can't be predicted

Well, there's one result that pretty much can be predicted. If you're a small investor in among those elephants you're going to get stomped, eg. loose all to the "superfast-trading hedge fund" players. Not how things were supposed to work.

So Taleb is part of the wolf pack...I mean hedge fund "advisor"? So the creator of "Black Swan" may himself be creating black swans, at least according to the article? Oh the irony ... or should I say coincidence?

About the DOE story and :

"Sweetnam has since left the EIA on a yearlong reassignment: a development unrelated to the interview he gave Le Monde, according to Lauren Mayne, a liquid fuels analyst at the agency. "

Just to be precise, the interview was not with Le Monde, but with a free lance journalist Mathieu Auzanneau, sometimes working with Le Monde, and published on his blog which is hosted by Le Monde :


Had a few exchange with him, and Le Monde wasn't any more "eager" to officialy publish something about his exchange with Sweetnam than any other media/paper.

Somehow "funny" that after it has been reported by the Guardian (and FT I think), also described as "published in Le Monde."

And about Sweetnam's reassignment, anyway to know whether it isn't related at all to this interview story ?

And about Sweetnam's reassignment, anyway to know whether it isn't related at all to this interview story ?

Who knows - may be he was willing to talk because he was anyway getting reassigned.

That's a good point.

Wasn't that the case with Hirsh Report - that it became public only because someone high up, who was retiring soon, signed off on it?

The new EIA International Petroleum Monthly just came out with the oil production numbers for February 2010.

Total C+C production was up by 442,000 barrels per day over the January numbers. OPEC production was up 95,000 bp/d while non-OPEC was up 347,000 bp/d. Big gainers were Azerbaijan, up 136 kb/d and Canada up 186 kb/d. The US was up 32 kb/d as the third largest non-OPEC gainer. The only big non-OPEC loser was the UK, down 91 kb/d. As for other big non-OPEC producers, Russia was unchanged while China was down 30 kb/d.

Ron P.

Bee Part of The Solution

This is far outside my area of expertise but I came across this while researching alternative power transmission systems. Although it is off topic today, I thought this was important enough to post. Does it shed light on the bee population collapse, or is this old news?

From an IEEE paper "Comparative Analysis of Wireless Systems as Alternative to High Voltage Power Lines for Global Terrestrial Power Transmission", A.P. Smakhtin, V.V. Rybakon, 1996. (excuse the grammar, but I'm sure their English is far better than my Russian).

The strong electric and magnetic fields which surround high-voltage electric lines is a result of electromagnetic nature of the power transmission process. The presence of electric and magnetic fields may have negative influence on biological objects near these lines and on condition of the atmosphere surrounding electric lines. For example, it was found that a family of bees perishes when a bee hive is installed not far from the high-voltage electric lines. Bees are one of oldest animals on the Earth and during millennia of evolution they were living in ecological clear conditions when Earth's natural electric field has been shielded by natural been-hives [sic] inside of hollow trees (Ivlev, et al., 1988).

So let's hypothesize the two correlating events: Bee hive collapse increasing while wireless communications increasing - especially cell phones. Could it be the wide spread deployment of cell phone towers be the cause of Honey Bee mortality?

I'll leave it to the biologists, farmers, and apiologists...

As an electrical engineer, I can say that there's a world of difference between the fields around "high-voltage electric lines" and "cell phone towers". Hypothesize all you want, but the causes of Colony Collapse Disorder will only be discovered by rigorous experimentation.

PT in PA

Is there a difference when frequency is taken into account? We're not just talking power here. And where pray tell does rigorous experimentation begin? Hypothesis maybe? As stated, this is outside my area of expertise - and your's obviously - but it was the same for Wegener with his silly notion of tectonic plate movement to describe the continents.

Plate tectonic theory arose out of the hypothesis of continental drift proposed by Alfred Wegener in 1912[6] and expanded in his 1915 book The Origin of Continents and Oceans. - Wikipedia

He was dismissed and ridiculed because he was a climatologist and not a geologist.

And southwestPA, note the user name, does EE ring any bells?

I think it can be stated fairly certainly that 50hz or 60hz power transmission lines in good condition can't harm anything in nature. In order to acquire any energy from a conductor without touching it, it is necessary to couple with it either a) magnetically (need to be a good conductor) or b) as an antenna capacitively.

a) Little in nature is a sufficiently good conductor to couple magnetically to anything and bees aren't large enough to get a part of the curcuit out of the magnetic field, even if they were good conductors.

b) To couple as an antena, it is best to be "tuned", eg. some even fraction of a wavelength. The wavelength of a 60 hz powerline is 300,000 / 60 = 5,000 km, a 1/4 wavelength antena should be 1,200 km long. Bees wouldn't qualify. However, re: in good condition, poorly made splices or failing insulators can create arcing, which may be capable of broadcasting significant power at much higher frequencies. However, that will both cause significant energy losses for the transmission line operator and serious interferences with the owners of broadcast licenses in the area, so is normally fixed quickly.

Regarding cellphones, If I understand correctly (from ACS website below) the broadcast frequencies are in the 1 to 10 Ghz range, meaning the wavelength can range from 30 cm down to 3 cm. Even at the highest frequency, a 1/4 wavelength is about 8 mm. Agreed, it may be getting into the range that a bee could interact with, though use of the highest frequencies is generally very recent, eg. I think newer than the bee die-off problem. Would still be worth confirming with someone more expert than myself however.

Cellular Phone Towers - American Cancer Society

You are supposing you know the mechanism of harm. When it turned out they had missed a variable of prevailing wind, the HT pylon/health issues fell into correlation. It turned out airborne garbage becomes charged passing EHT and therefore sticks to us causing higher exposures. Simple, once you see it. I notice the media has ignored the story since, though..

My skills do not extend into either statistics or emf theory and practice , but powerlines are not the primary cause of CCD.

There is no significant correlation between power line or cell phone tower locations and CCD nearby bee keepers experience;many hives are lost in locations remote from such installations, and many located directly under power lines are thriving, including four at my place.

Perhaps one day it will be proven that power lines are one contributing factor, among many other possible factors, to CCD.If so, the contribution will be minor, else it would be clear to beekeepers already.

Wegener was dismissed because no one could see how continents could drift -- rock can't plow through solid rock. Measurements in the 1960s showed that the sea floor was spreading apart at midocean ridges and the mechanism became apparent. The science of plate techtonics followed.

As soon as maps were drawn, people could see that the coasts of north and south america fit into the coasts of europe and africa -- but the obvious conclusion couldn't be accepted until the mechanism could be understood.

Economists, listen up to the mudduck! Science starts with a correlation, it doesn't finish there.

Yes. Stephen Jay Gould wrote about how he was once part of a student protest when his college sponsored a lecture on "continental drift." He considered it wacky pseudoscience at the time, despite the evidence visible in maps and rocks. It was the mechanism that made it accepted. Now no reasonable scientist rejects the idea.

And a little trivia: Wegener wasn't even a geologist. He was a meteorologist. Thus another reason to discount him. More trivia: he died after getting lost in a snow storm above the Arctic Circle.

Is there a difference when frequency is taken into account? We're not just talking power here.

A huge difference. We're talking about 60 Hz power lines (wavelength 5000 km) versus roughly 2 GHz cell phone signals (wavelength 15 cm). But it's clear we are wasting bandwidth discussing bees and cell phone towers on an oil depletion forum.

Gordo just said bye-bye. Cameron will be in #10 very shortly, after a quick stop to see the Queen, I imagine. Looks like a Con/Lib Dem deal, still uncertain whether or not it will be an actual coalition government.

Mr. Cameron has had a nice chat with the Queen. She has kindly invited him to tea. He is no longer the Right Honourable David Cameron, Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, but instead has morphed into the Right Honourable David Cameron, Prime Minister.

He's aiming for a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Details pending. But Whitehall is, at last, under new management.

As they say on Vulcan, "live long and prosper."

Every once in a while I think about this whole PO, energy descent, overshoot, etc. situation non-abstractly, and it scares the cr*p out of me. I don't know why, but today is one of those days where I look at a Hubbert curve, and don't just see a graph on paper, but something very real and think "can I handle this?"

When you figure out how to handle the oil decline, please give us an update.

Anyway, one thing the Totnes people did http://totnesedap.org.uk/ putting together their energy descent plan, was to go back in time to see how people in Totnes lived before there was wide availability of oil,cars, industrialized agriculture, refrigerators, super markets, etc. Very interesting and seems like it gives one more hope in the sense that we have "been there, done that". The best paradigm may be the old paradigm not some new radical paradigm.

Some will dispute this but at least we have some alternative energy capabilities that we did not have pre world war II.

In my life time (63), I do recall a time where we did not have all the modern conveniences. This even included lack of electricity in our mountain cabin and the use of ice boxes stocked with ice that was kept frozen in saw dust insulated ice houses throughout the summer. Now maybe this did not bother us because we were just on vacation but it does show the possibility of going back to a less energy intensive life style and it shows that it is not necessarily the end of the world. Or maybe I was too young to feel inconvenienced.

Of course, things may get so bad that even our rustic life style in the mountains might seem like a luxury.

The key to pre World War II in Totnes, U.K. and other places was localization of agriculture, products, and services. Unfortunately, we have lost many of the skills that those people had. That will be one of the biggest parts of the challenge in a post peak future.

With gold in a parabolic move close to making new all time high in US $, will the Prechterites (Robert Prechter followers) finally admit he is wrong? What we are witnessing is the destruction of currencies of western nations and Japan. Euro is the first domino to fall. After Euro it will be the British Pound, Yen, US $, Swiss Franc and finally the Canadian $. Gold is the only currency that will be left standing because central bankers cannot create it out of thin air. This is the outcome of quantitative easing to infinity (otherwise known as money printing).

Yeah, yeah we all know gold has no intrinsic value. What is the intrinsic value of your paper assets and paper currencies?

It is not too late to ride the golden bull. I think gold will top at close to $6000/oz. It will not be an easy ride; there will be plenty of crashes along the way. I am planning to hang in there till gold tops $5000/oz.

I am planning to hang in there till gold tops $5000/oz.

And then what? Cash out? ;-)

That is funny. Can you imagine the gold bugs, nuggets clenched tightly in their fists, deciding at $5K/oz that stability had returned to the world and cashing out? Naw, they plan to have it sewn into their grave clothes.

Ryder, you can be a smart ass who derives some satisfaction from stereotyping or ridiculing other people or you can learn about gold investing from people like James Sinclair (http://www.jsmineset.com/). I come to TOD to learn about peak oil and go to jsmineset to learn about gold investing.

Physical gold should not be sold unless absolutely necessary but passed on to ones descendants. Gold mining stocks however, should be sold above $5000/oz.

Check out NEM, GG, RGLD, TRE, CDE, GDX and GDXJ.
This is not investment advice. Do your own due diligence.

Don't know if $CDN will destruct. Although it is a fiat currency closely associated with the $US, it is still supported by these hard resource assets. Matter of fact, a new gold mine in our back yard is hiring. I just spoke with the electrical superintendent.

There is another view from TAE (and others) that as food and energy prices increase, the amount left for discretionary spending (read services and toys) will be reduced which will cause more unemployment and further recession. We have seen food prices rise in just the last couple months here in Reno NV, probably due to most all food is imported here and subject to fuel price fluctuations. Should that actually happen, the price of commodities should go down except for those that have reached resource peaks. To my knowledge we have not reached peak gold … it is still a speculators market. As such, it seems that it should follow typical speculator volatility regardless of all the hype.

Talk about luck: I made several thousand in the gold futures market in 1981 when Sadat was killed. I saw it on the ticker tape and immediately bought three gold contracts. Within the hour it limited up and IIRC the next day or two also so I got out when it started trading again richer by far.

"To my knowledge we have not reached peak gold …"

Peak Gold, Easier to Model than Peak Oil?


Ghung: Thanks for the update. Interesting that it peaked at it's recent low.

Gold is not a commodity but a currency. Its rise is due to loss of faith in paper currencies. Gold will continue to go up as long as "quantitative easing" continues. It is now the new reserve currency.

As far as I know I think peak gold was in 2000. But I don't think that matters very much. It takes years to bring a new mine in production and overall production will grow slowly if at all it grows. The investment demand for gold is growing a lot faster. Wait until hedge funds, central banks and pension funds start investing in gold. It has already started but is at present a trickle.

The bull market in gold will end when interest rates are allowed to rise well above the inflation rate. As long as interest rates are artificially held below the inflation rate to bail out the debtors and lenders gold will go up.


You sound as if you have done your homework.Yours is the first coherent defense of gold I have seen here.

The only part that I might question is the hold for hiers part;but I am reasonably sure that if you expand on this aspect of gold investing, you can make your case.

Please do so for the others here who have not done thier own gold due diligence.

Incidentally I do not invest in gold;such very limited funds as I have are spent on fundamental level investments on the farm.My bet is that if I ever have to leave HERE, thre will be no place to flee TO with portable wealth in hand.

Of course the situation historically has been different, a savvy would be emigrant with gold or other precipous metals or stones could often successfully make his way to another country.

The only part that I might question is the hold for hiers part;but I am reasonably sure that if you expand on this aspect of gold investing, you can make your case.

I don't trust paper currencies. They all lose their value eventually since it is too tempting for politicians to finance social programs and wars by borrowing money. When debt becomes too large money can no longer be borrowed at affordable rates and it is simply printed into existence with a few keystrokes. The problem with other paper assets such as stocks or bonds is that you are vulnerable to fraud, default or decline into irrelevance which eventually happens to every business.

The only secure way to transmit some wealth to your descendants is via hard assets that are likely to hold value over long term. Gold will never be worthless although its value in paper currency might decline over the short to intermediate term. The same thing holds for real estate in prime areas such as Manhattan or a painting by a famous dead painter. The advantage in holding gold is that you can buy as much or as little as you can afford. You can also sell some of it if you need to raise cash. The problem with gold is that unlike an apartment in Manhattan which can be rented out it does not produce any income.

Last night on CNBC, a guest was saying the U.S. debt has not been monetized yet. I wondered what that meant, because his explanations were incoherent. So I did a google search and found this article:

Monetizing Debt: The Grandest of Larcenies
By Bill Bonner, 06/05/09


Now you can see the article is from 09, but since according to the above guest it has not been monetized yet, the article still seems pertinent. Here's a blurb:

The Fed will eventually monetize the debt. “Monetizing” debt, by the way, is larceny on the grandest scale. Rather than honestly repaying what it has borrowed, a government merely prints up extra currency and uses it to pay its loans. The debt is “monetized”…transformed into an increase in the money supply, thereby lowering the purchasing power of everybody’s savings.

Of course, the Fed will not want to do such a dastardly deed; but it will do it anyway. Even good people do bad things when they get in a jamb. The feds are already in pretty deep…and they’re going a lot deeper.

The rest of the article justs points to economic juxtipositions, but nothing more about monetizing debt. But, if that guest on CNBC was right, and it has not been monetized yet, then I wonder when they plan to do that, how much of the debt will be monetized and over what time period? Or, is the guy on CNBC wrong, i.e. the process of monetizing has already begun?

You'll recognize it happening when interest rates start skyrocketing. In 1984 (ish) I was paying 17.5% on a mortgage on a new house.

Wasn't that during Carter in 80-81? High interest rates killed the small company I was working for, and fortunately I was able to land another job just in time, but lots of businesses folded and many people suffered financially. I remember it all too well! Oh, I can't imagine that occurring again - ugh!

Thanks for the tip off on what to look for.

Monetizing Debt: The Grandest of Larcenies

Wouldn't that be the same as hyperinflation ? Has hyperinflation ever worked in any country that has done it? I would define "worked" as not making things worse.

Hyperinflation? That will monetize our fixed home loan - Oh yeah! Although I realize the repercussions for the overall economy and people's savings will not be good.

Peak Earl, you said, "That will monetize our fixed home loan - Oh yeah!"

This relates to what we were discussing yesterday...if, and that is a big, big IF you can get a fixed rate loan, if you know monetization is coming, you best bet is to TAKE THE LOAN. You will be paying back the lender in inflated dollars.

Monetization and the following increase in interest rates has historically always been better for the asset owners than those in debt, especially in variable rate or consumer debt.

The problem is, of course, social stability. It is hard to enjoy the value of inflating assets if the poor with no assets are rioting and burning down your neigborhood.


I think hyperinflation is what it would lead to. As noted above, it wouldn't be so bad for people with big fixed rate debts. It would be a disaster for those with large savings accounts, or even worse, certificates of deposit or something similar.

It would also make the price of most imported goods skyrocket, at least in theory.

I thought that the Fed had been buying US Treasury instruments, but in any case they have definitely been buying mortgages backed securities, something like $1.1 Trillion worth:


The Fed of course "created" $1.1 Trillion of money to buy the mortgage backed securities. As the above article notes, the question is when they start selling the mortgage bonds.

Longer term, even the deflationists concede that the endgame is hyperinflation, but they assume that it is years away. IMO, constrained oil supplies are acting as an accelerant, pushing us faster along the path to the hyperinflationary outcome.

In any case, give me $10,000 this week and in 2015, I'll tell you what you should have done with your money in 2010.

Let's talk about US debt monetization first, then Euroland.

Yes the Fed has monetized $1.1 trillion mortgages starting in late 2008, but mostly from March 2009 through March 2010. It's not clear what will happen to the US mortgage market once the panic buying of US treasuries and mortgage backed securities dwindles after the Euro crisis fades (most likely into some other type of crisis).

To date, over time, the Fed has also monetized $800 billion of Treasuies. So loosely speaking, the Fed has not monetized the US government debt too much. But if that happened, we would be discussing whether the price of oil will level out at $500 and if gold was still a good buy at $5000. But that day may still come.

The ECB monetized about 100 billion Euros in the last 5 weeks (ending last week), after basically holding the line from July to March. The pace of monetization is picking up steeply this week, but hold your breath - Wednesday the ECB may be making an even bigger move.

The IMF also just issued about $300 billion out of thin air last year, and I'm still trying to figure out if the IMF's share of the Euro bailout is new money or real money borrowed from somewhere else. So far only about 5.5 billion euros have been given to Greece.

The Fed/ECB swap doesn't become effective before Thursday, so its premature to say the $1 trillion bail out is a flop. I won't bet against the Fed.

The monetary trend is clearly moving parabolically upward from all the way back to the beginning of the financial crisis in mid-2007. It would be almost impossible to guess where that would leave us in 2015.

In my mind, borrowing money that can not be paid back (due to the end of cheap oil) is the same as monetizing. This means we have massive monetization world wide.

A good today. Labour out at last, thank God.

Prime Minister Cameron and the Conservatives and Liberals have done a deal.

A new dawn in British Politics.

I'm just bloody glad to see the back of Labour after 13 years.

Same here. What do you reckon - the conservatives to wield the axe and the lib dems to stop them paying off their rich backers?

Or endless bickering - a blunt axe and payouts to the rich anyway while they each blame the other?

I would think that the Lib Dems would be highly motivated to be well-behaved and to try really hard to make this coalition work. They have gone too far out on a limb now. A lot of their left-wing supporters (and even some MPs) will now be leaving them, and so this is their only chance to avoid complete marginalization for decades, if not outright extinction. If they don't make this work, they will never be invited into a coalition government again, and the UK voters will make sure that they never even get the chance.

Hi HAcland,

I appreciate that for you this is a happy day.

As I said before, I give Cameron at least two years. Even with bickering from tne opposition benches, he has at least two years. Coalition or no coalition, defeating a government is not as easy as it looks.

Here's hoping this will be time well spent.


It sounds like part of the deal is an explicit 4-year commitment to try and stay together and make this work. If the Lib Dems pull out and bring down the government prematurely, Cameron will have that broken agreement to wave in the air, blaming it all on the Lib Dems.

I appreciate that for you this is a happy day.

Zadok me old Canuck friend, this is a fantastic day!

The old, tired, bitter regime is out and we have a new man in Number 10. Times will be difficult but thank God we have the change. It feels like a better country already, and on the way home this evening I could swear that even the birds were singing a bit more proudly and happily than last night!

You want something done right, you call on the Conservatives. Well they have to work with the Liberals and to be honest that is no bad thing. Now we await to see how the cabinet shapes up. Osborne is already confirmed as Chancellor and Hague is Foreign Secretary. The rest we don't know yet...

HAcland, my boy,

You are singing the same song that many of us over here in the States were singing when Obama was elected. What makes you so certain that anything will change?

sgage - Things may not 'change' but at least they won't be the same!


Ah, HAcland, I think you have just provided me with my new motto!


Essentially things will stay the same, but even worse:

General Election 2010: bankers become MPs in new Parliament

One in 10 new MPs has previously worked in financial services, ranging from investment banking and accounting to fund management, according to a report by the Madano Partnership.

With British banks facing a radical shake-up, no less than three former directors of Barclays Bank will be sitting in Westminster.

They include new Tory MPs Stephen Barclay, who is head of anti-money laundering and sanctions at Barclays Bank; Andrea Leadsom who was financial institutions director at the bank before joining Invesco Perpetual; and Jessie Norman, the new Conservative member for Hereford, who was a director of Barclays until 1997.

Meanwhile Alun Cairns, another new Tory, worked for Lloyds TSB.

Investment bankers include Hariett Baldwin, managing director of JP Morgan, and Sam Gyimah, a former mergers and acquisitions banker at Goldman Sachs.

The Tories are also fielding Mark Garnier, an emerging markets specialist; Jo Johnson, the brother of London Mayor Boris Johnson, who worked at Deutsche Bank; and Jacob Rees Mogg, formerly of Rothschild and Lloyd George Management.

The investment management expertise has been boosted by the arrival of Richard Graham, formerly head of international business at Barings Asset Management, who was also founder of the British Chambers of Commerce in Shanghai.

Some of the new MPs have already proved crucial to David Cameron and George Osborne.

They include Matthew Hancock, who was Mr Osborne's chief of staff and the brains behind the Tory economic policies, who has become MP for Suffolk West; Kwasi Kwarteng, another of Mr Osborne's economic advisers; and Julian Smith, the co-author of the Arculus Report on red tape and regulation commissioned by the Tory leaders in 2009.

Mark Reckless, who was an economist for Barings and Warburg banks, and who worked for the Conservative Policy Unit, has also become an MP.

Although the report found most were Tory MPs, Labour and the Liberal Democrats had an increase in accountants and consultants.

Although I despise Labour (one of the reasons I left the UK was Gordon Brown), I think it's naive to even hope, let alone think, that a new government will change anything. Britain is going to collapse hard regardless of who is in power. A change of governing faces just allows the oligarchs enough time to tweak the system to their advantage before the sucker public catch on again. Then it's just rinse and repeat.

You've got to get out of the trap before it finally snaps shut, trapping you for ever in a failing State that will be impossible to escape from.

Hey HAcland,

I'll have a pint of local Keiths to help celebrate. As the commercial says, Hold True!

Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.

The money changers are far from finished making mincemeat of currencies, debts are piling on hourly, and nobody has a clue what tomorrow may bring. Savouring the victory may be short and sweet, but it is worthwhile savouring .... at least the political logjam has dissipated.


The main thing is that the lines of public decision making have been made clear. Davey boy is in charge, while Georgie (Osborne) and Billy (Hague) are out of the shadows and on to the front benches.

Now, just think, half of Britain damn near had coronaries waiting a mere few days for resolution of a mildly hung parliament. Just imagine that happening every time the country went to the polls. Italians, Irish, and Israelis can wait weeks or months before figuring out who won. Do Brits really have the patience for PR?

Here's for peace, order and good government in the U.K.

Cheers! (from a friendly Canuck)

Conservatives and Liberals have done a deal.

I've just realised that in the United States you are more likely to see a snow ball survive in hell than this sentence being written!

Conservatives and Liberals have done a deal.

I actually suspect that Labour and the Liberals have done the deal. Clegg didn't want to work with Gordon Brown and the other flotsam from the Left - and Brown was yesterday's man already after the election results. So Labour advises Clegg to do a deal with David Cameron, and stay nice until the electoral reform is through in the next year or so - choosing either Proportional Representation (PR) or Preferential Voting (PV).

The overturning of FPTP voting should see Labour-Liberal coalitions for a century. How many seats did the Conservatives win with more than 50% of the votes cast? Not many I expect ... and it's not that many even if you add in the fruit-loop parties of the right who presumably would send their second (alternative) vote to the Tories.

So a good long-term deal for Lab-Lib perhaps. Gordon Brown was minor collateral damage.

Cargill - methinks you are a bit behind the curve on the electoral reform thing. The reason the Liberals could not have done a deal with Labour is that many Labour MPs are dead against electoral reform as well. The position now, as I understand it is that electoral reform is dead in the water, but there might be some minor tinkering such as making each constituency the same size by population. IMHO PR will never see the light of day in Britain.

Well maybe ... we'll see how much the Lib-Dem constituency (that has to vote on the coalition deal, after all) believes that electoral reform is dead in the water. Without electoral reform, the Lib-Dems can never do really well proportionally - even if their vote approaches 30% of the total. I think PR is a very long shot too, but Alternative/Preferential Voting (plus electoral boundary reform) must still be on the agenda, you'd think.

Cargill - the liberal MPs and the party federal board have just voted unanimously to agree to the terms and enter formal coalition. It is a done deal. The Queen has formally appointed Nick Clegg as deputy prime minister and there will be five Liberals in the cabinet. Britain has a formal coalition government. Amazing times indeed.. Also very exciting times!

I'm aware it's a done deal - a formal coalition no less - but the referendum on electoral reform is part of the mix, and I don't think the Lib-Dem masses will let the Tories forget it - even as Nick Clegg and the other ministers get very comfortable in the plush chairs and the black cars. Power is very seductive ... you have to watch that.

And they still look far too much like two braying public school prats off on a ripping little adventure. Not sure either of them has had a hard day in their lives. We'll see.

Perhaps you should ask Cameron whether he had a 'hard day' the day his handicapped 6 year old son died?

I am no great fan of Cameron (I suspect he is another Tony Blair-soundbite politician clone) but Cargill you might try not to let your prejudice get in the way of a little bit of research about the guy.

Climb down a bit from your high horse andyh - a bit of light social commentary hardly rates as "prejudice" - and everyone has personal tragedy and set-backs whatever their circs ... and you knew I meant a hard day financially, or career-wise. I'm sure he's had hard days when his driver couldn't turn up, or one of his guests got a bit drunk, and spoilt the dinner party. Hardly the point I was making.

Odd, you seem to make a virtue of your prejudice - at least I assume you do by re-inforcing it yet again.

I think you might find Cargill that in the real world most people would be happy to have a string of bad financial days rather than a single day which involved the loss of a child.

Still, stick with your superciliousness - I guess someone has to suffer from it, may as well be you.

It's ironic that after 13 years of Labour the country is in such a precarious position that it has the opposition forming a coalition - almost unheard of outside wartime - which not even the Left's bete-noir Maggie Thatcher managed.

War on debt anyone?

Your comment makes no sense. There is a coalition because the Tory party were unable to gain a majority despite the unpopularity of the Labour government. The Thatcher years were very destructive and divisive, and have cast a long shadow.

The Thatcher years were very destructive and divisive, and have cast a long shadow.

Oh please! Enough! This has been the default fall-back position of the left for soooo long. The year is 2010 and we have, thankfully, a Conservative government once again.

Wow...you guys have more than two parties...hard for us amerikans to comprehend.

You should vote for Ralph Nader more often then!

That won't work. Our political system is fundamentally different from a European-type parliamentary system. It's set up so there will always be two parties, both fairly centrist. Our founding fathers valued stability over all.

And some of malcontents would argue we have a one party system.

I wasn't saying Brown is more hated than Thatcher, Thatcher was certainly more divisive. Brown has created an indecisive ambivalence, and instead of creating a "progressive alliance", he has created an opposition "we need to clear up the mess alliance".

Being hated is fairly normal for an outgoing leader, but Brown's legacy is a historic coalition government, and possibly some form of PR, which IMO is a more notable consequence than anything Thatcher did.

I don't think it's precariousness that's the problem, it's that there's not a majority in the country convinced about what to do (and what the various parties would actually do) about the most important issues. In the past situations a coalition at election time wouldn't have been numerous enough to have actually changed things. (There have been times during a parliament when attrition and whip-withrdrawl has made, eg, DUP votes important, but not at election time.) In contrast, as illustrated even in these threads, we've got juiced-up cheerleaders both for and against the conservatives at this point.

Personally I'm unsure and waiting to see how things play out -- will the conservative lead coalition cut the non-productive debt (eg, bailing out their friends who run banks) more significantly than what I'd consider deleterous cutting of societal infrastructure? I hope so, but at this point I really don't think there's any way to know other than wait and evaluate.

The MoD is expecting a haircut

Yeah, it was the financial cliff I was referring to. The political situation does actually look quite stable, albeit an unusual configuration for UK politics. Cameron and Clegg emerge looking like the politicians most willing to adapt, and Brown the dinosaur. I think everyone is wondering how this is going to work, and how they are going to tackle the debt problem.

The numbers are ugly:

But at least we are not the worst:


There is nothing like a crisis to bring people together. There is nothing like a crisis to tear people apart. True in families, especially dysfunctional ones. True in politics, always dysfunctional.

The job ahead for the Conservative/Liberal Democratic coalition, indeed all OEDC governments, is formidable and nauseatingly daunting.

Debt, as you surmised, isn't the only issue at play. If it were Spain would not be part of the PIGS configuration, having a public debt load nearer to Switzerland than France and far below Germany. What's more, if external debt was by itself the only factor, Greece wouldn't be part of the PIGS acronym or anywhere near center stage of this current maelstrom.

The economies that fared best during the boom years -- rising employment, rising property values, rising disposal income and concomitant rising personal and public debt -- are the ones that find themselves particularly hard bitten during the bust. European cooperation is one thing during better, richer, and healthier times, it is quite another during worse, poorer and sicker moments. The true test of marriage.

Unless someone has a magical wand to re-inflate property values, to re-ignite the construction trade, to further widen leverage within the banking system, all backed by ever expanding productivity and growth, BAU is over. Resource limitation, as many contributors to TOD have argued for a while, is a deciding factor and a serious brake on the whole shebang restarting.

Whether or not the guests have been told, the party's over. What's more, not everybody is suffering a hangover. Some are in acute and advanced stages of blood poisoning. And no hair of the dog that bit them is bringing them back.


Two ideas how you might want to fix the clogging problem on the top of the dome, possibly used together:

1. Ultrasounds. Ever watched a rocket launched? In the first few seconds due to the vibrations generated by the boosters/main engine the ice accumulated on the fuel tanks containing liquid fuel comes off. You obviously don't use racket engines on the dome, but some ultrasonic generators used throughout industry. Something like this, but bigger:

2. Inductive heating. The clogged pipe is small enough and it has the perfect shape. You don't need to heat it up to be red hot, but it should work something like this:

Both methods should work fine at these depths. Both technologies are mature and can be scaled up easily. Controlling the electrical power you can control both the amount of ultrasonic cavitation and the amount of heat deposited in the clogged pipe.